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Proof and Payment: Does Payment on Results Have a Place?

Posted by Deborah | September 22nd, 2014 | No responses

I was reminded again the other day what a fundamental issue the PR & marketing world still has in ensuring the value of our work is understood. Not for the first time, I found myself clarifying to a new client why he would be expected to part with his hard earned money for my services.

In his mind, surely monies would become owing for the creation of a press release, at the point he’d received a parcel of national newspaper cuttings. A smile took to my lips. We’ve been here before…payment by results!

I know every agency or consultant has their views on whether we should indeed entertain payment on results, or whether it mocks our professionalism. In the case of this particular client of course, he hadn’t instructed in advance that this would be his appreciation – more that he believed he could simply pay after tangible results received.

I can’t blame this individual for trying his luck, and perhaps I’ll go so far as to suggest this is a genuine misapprehension of how PR charging works. But does he have a point?

Do agency practitioners ought to be more open to payment on results if – as I was on this client – we have every confidence we’ll gain the coverage they’re hoping for?

I guess it invites a couple of questions about what other provisions in life we’re prepared to ‘pay for on a promise’.

Indulge me here….

When was the last time you got to the beauty counter and said to the lady “of course, I’m not paying for this £50 moisturiser until I know for sure it makes me look 10 years younger…”. When did you last tell the private school bursar that you’d come back and pay fees owing when your child received straight A’s and a place at Cambridge?

And when did you risk telling a fertility expert that of course you’d pay for IVF treatment – on the very day your bundle of joy was placed in your arms? Exactly – as much as you want to say those things, you can’t and don’t.

But all this said, I fully understand clients wanting evidence of results in what they pay for. I believe that where we can deliver tangible return we naturally raise the credibility of the industry and dismiss any suggestions of it being a ‘fluffy’ profession.

What’s more, the evolution of PR delivery IS making it easier to help a client measure what we do for them – so we should embrace that when we remind them why we charge for their time. After all, invariably we’re not just talking to press and writing articles for them, but we’re creating a voice for their website, a dialogue with their clients in social media, an organic boost to their online rankings….and all that, without doubt, has worth!

And as for my client, well, somewhat ironically, I gained him an opportunity to be interviewed in none other than the Daily Telegraph about his business.

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